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Iron Thistle - Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Iron ThistleIron Thistle

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

70 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 70
Hads: 266
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.8%
Wants: 18
Gots: 56 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company visit their website
Texas, United States

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: roblowther on 05-30-2009

SCOTTISH STYLE ALE
Available : February Release
Break out the bagpipes with your lederhosen! We’re proud to present our Iron Thistle Scotch Ale – Rahr’s first National Grand Champion winner. This dark, Scottish ale has a bold taste dominated by a smooth, sweet maltiness balanced with a low, hoppy bitterness. So don your kilts and enjoy. Here’s to your health – Slàinte! Prosit!
ABV
8.5%

IBUS
35

COLOR/SRM
Dark Brown

HOP VARIETIES
Warrior

MALTS
2 Row, Vienna, Crystal, Chocolate, Carafa Special II
TASTING NOTES
Deeply Malty, Caramel, Light Hops
PREFERRED GLASS
Pint
PREFERRED SERVING TEMPERATURE
52°
CHEESE PAIRINGS
Brie, Aged Gouda
FOOD PAIRINGS
According to a well-respected expert, Iron Thistle pairs really well with grilled or steamed vegetables because “they won’t have to scream to be heard.” Since we find screaming vegetables unappetizing, we think this is a perfect pairing.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 70 | Hads: 266
Photo of Pegasus
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Massive, dense tan head with excellent persistence crowns a nearly opaque amber body.An abundance of Belgian-like lacing adorns the glass wall.

Aroma: Dark, mildly peaty and smoky malt notes utterly dominate the aroma, although there is an abundance of caramel as well.

Taste: Opens with a wave of dark caramel, and and earthy peat flavor. As the taste progresses, wood and smoke flavors appear. Late in the taste, there is bitter cocoa as well, and a bit of coffee. Finishes with moderate, lingering burnt caramel, and peaty earthiness.

Mouth feel: Smooth, rich, very full and pleasant, with just a hint of carbonation.

Drinkability/notes: Seems a bit off-style, the grains seem over-toasted.

Presentation: Packaged in a standard twelve-ounce brown glass long neck bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice. (852 characters)

Photo of gnemesis
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this 12oz bottle from JJfoodie as another amazing extra. I poured it into a snifter on 2/21/2011.
This beer pours dark brown, almost black, and has a small amount of tan colored head perched above. This scotch ale is all malt in a wonderful way. My nose picks up gobs of caramel, a bit of sweet chocolate, a dab of vanilla, nice sweet maltiness here. The taste follows through and adds a touch of roasted malt and a quick waft of smoke. The body is medium and is laced with a medium amount of carbonation. I was happy with this interpretation. Smooth, mellow, malty but not overly sweet. I would have another were it available to me. (642 characters)

Photo of BeardedRiker
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

You know, when I first started drinking Rahr beers, I wasn't too impressed, but over the last year or so I've come to appreciating much more. It probably started when I first tried their Winter Warmer. I thought it was delicious. Then I drank their BBWW and was extremely impressed. It's one of those beers you can't get enough of. Now I've had their Iron Thistle and I'm convinced any of their beers that use roasted and/or chocolate malts then I'll like the beer. The Iron Thistle is no exception. Also, I don't think I've had a Scotch Ale that I've disliked.

Iron Thistle pours out clear and the darkest of brown, but a brown-ruby color when held up to the light. The head is light brown while being about a finger and a half high. It fizzes itself out fairly quickly. No lacing. With the name Iron Thistle, it's not a tantalizing name as far as the beer goes, but this does look good.

Mmm...I like the smell. As expected, it's malty as hell. Dark roasted malts bring out nuttiniess, coffee, and a brown sugar sweetness. Chocolate malt is present too. There's a bit of anise or liquorice. I do get some hops that warm the nose with spice.

The taste is where this beer shines. Coffee and chocolate malts are strong with a brown sugar sweetness that's underneath. It has a nice nuttiness throughout, as well as a slight hint of booze. This sort of reminds me of the BBWW but the flavors are not as strong. You know, at the end I get a sort of tobacco-ish essence with it. I've decided while I'm a hop head, I also love beers that use the roasted, dark malts.

This has a medium-low carbonation that makes it very smooth with its medium body. Iron Thistle is oh so drinkable.

Another Rahr beer that's damn good and another Scotch Ale that I really like. Rahr is now one of my favorite Texas breweries. (1,805 characters)

Photo of HardTarget
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 12 oz. twisty, some marketing on the label, but not much info. Served in the branded thistle glass.

A) Deep ruby red/black body shows some clarity with strong backlight. Holds a preacher's collar of dirty tan but doesn't lace the glass.

S) Bready, slightly sweet grape malt with whiffs of alcohol.

T) Mild overall flavor. Malty grape soda base, no hop flavors noted, but no excessive sweetness in the malt either. Hides the alcohol expertly.

M) A bit fizzy, lively carbonation keeps it from being heavy, even a wee heavy. Light prickle after the swallow.

D) Dangerous, I'm taking large pulls and enjoying them. A gentle giant this one, easy laid back smooth talker. Solid work Rahr! (695 characters)

Photo of ranger7
3.96/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: Dark red. Nice carbonation, great lacing.
S: Malt, nuts.
T: Mostly malt. Some nuttiness. A bit of a bite in the end.
F: Fairly smooth, some carbonation.
O: Definitely good. It's interesting to taste this side by side with an Old Chub. This one is more nutty and has the bite in the finish. (292 characters)

Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this from a generous Texas BA as part of my SNF winnings.

A-Body is a translucent dark brown hue with mahogany edges when held up to the light. An aggressive pour yields a 1-2 finger head which fades quickly to a thick collar-the collar has great retention. Little lacing left behind in the glass.

S-Caramel malt, chocolate, and molasses come to the nose first. Smells deep at first but then there is a refreshing herbal twinge at the end of the first whiff.

T-Seems like there is not too much going on upfront. Mild presence of caramel and chocolate malts-but thats it. The flavor here is in the later half. It starts with a moderate cocoa presence and then bitter roasted malt and an herbal presence come through for the finish. Faint hints of the whole flavor profile linger briefly after swallowing.

M- Moderate carbonation and medium weight body. The mouthfeel is a lot more "porter" to me than the thick, smooth,syrupy, mouthfeel I have come to expect from Scottish beers.

D- All in all this is a pretty good brew. Its surprisingly drinkable for 8% with no hints of alcohol whatsoever. Definitely worth a try. (1,124 characters)

Photo of pnelting
3.91/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Dark almost black with tan/off white head.
S: Sweet malt and caramel.
T: Follows the nose. Sweet and smooth. Caramel notes, maybe some brown sugar or vanilla. Little bit of earthiness in the finish.
M: Full bodied and sticky.
O: Nice Scotch Ale, maybe a little on the sweet side but would have again for sure. (313 characters)

Photo of Premo88
3.91/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle poured into small snifter
(Jan. 29, 2015 born-on date)

L: black with no light but dark brown with amber/dark orange highlights up to light; pushed up a small beige head of foam, not but 1/4- to 1/3-inch tall, not much to stick so no sticking; CLEAR ... as the glass empties, it's crystal clear ... very pretty dark-amber color, and an occasional bit of lacing

S: malt and more malt ... dark roasted barley, some coffee, some dark grapes/raisins ... very dense smell, like there's a chunk of malt in there ... sweet hints peek through ... now a bit of oak and maybe some vanilla -- there's a lot here, including now grain, sour grain ... and can caramel lack sugar? if so, there's an unsweetened caramel smell now

T: very wood/earthy-flavor to start, almost salty, then all that dark-roasted malt kicks in following the aroma notes ... coffee, unsweetened raisin bread (?) ... man, the understated sweetness is very unexpected but it's working -- the swallow starts off with a woody/salty taste then ever so slowly allows some sweetness to chime in as the aftertaste progresses. might be some peatiness ... wood-earth notes here are hard for me to describe, but the bottom line is the nose is sweeter than the taste; the wood is NOT burnt like in an American brown/porter/stout but literally just like wood smells

F: weighty, full but good carbonation to lighten it a little, and it isn't slick ...

O: dang good beer, at times feels like an American stout, but the wood notes and almost peat-like notes give it a Scotch-ale feel ... the aftertaste is as good as the taste; also feels a bit like a winter warmer, but that's not so bad -- it's keeping in the UK ale family, right? it's both sweet and noticeably not sweet at the same time ... interesting brew. (1,785 characters)

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of this new <bottled> brew from Rahr and Sons. Pours a very dark brown color with only a few highlights showing around the edges. Foam is thick and creamy with decent retention and lacing.

Nose is malty and nutty with a touch of peat. A bit chocolaty and somewhat sweet smelling. Fruit is pretty low for the style and this might be passable as a foreign export stout.

Malty and smooth with a bit more roast than most scotch ales. More chocolate as well. Peat is on the low end and does not display a whole lot of smoky flavor. Hops and a touch of burnt toast contribute a much needed bitter kick on the finish. ABV seems nowhere near 8%, pretty damn drinkable. I must say, this might be my second favorite Rahr beer behind the winter warmer. Pretty tasty beverage here. (790 characters)

Photo of roblowther
3.89/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Fresh off winning the 15th Annual US Beer Tasting Championships National Grand Champion award, sampled at The Flying Saucer in FW from its victory lap brewing. It is very dark brown, with a thin white creamy head. The smell is coffee, caramel, and a hint of lemon. The taste is strong malt, slight roasted bitterness, lemons, carob, and a smoky finish. It is mellower than many scotch ales. The mouthfeel is silky, wth nice carbonation. Drinkability is good, but the finish is a bit too smoky to settle into an afternoon of them. All in all, one of the best scotch ales I've had, maybe the best. (595 characters)

Photo of kkipple
3.89/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks go to Freeverse for hooking me up with a bevy of new Texas brews. The reviews continue!

12oz bottle (nice label, no freshness date) goes into my big Allagash tulip. Some would question the choice of an 8% scotch ale on a 95 degree Columbia afternoon, and I would be one of them... quick review because I have lots to do this Sunday:

A. Low / no head, simply a ring of bubbles around the edge of this very darkly colored brown brew. One of the darker Scotch Ales I've encountered. No lace, no bubbles. Looks thickish.

S. Comprehensive. Sweet, but restrained layers of malt, with cocoa, light coffee and some prune. Perhaps a minor buttery note, and some booze. It's good.

T. Really not bad; I was afraid this would go the sticky-sweet route but it works well. The malt-heavy thickness is sufficiently dried out to let the roast, cola and darker fruit shine through, with a difficult to place nut-like flavor lingering long into the finish.

M / D. Lower carbonation, medium body. 8% is well hidden. Drinks rather well actually, there is a mildly annoying sour red wine like note here but it is easily ignored if you keep drinking...

Iron Thistle is a lot better than I was expecting, and certainly worth a shot if you happen across it. Now, back to the house chores! (1,281 characters)

Photo of MattSweatshirt
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Down the middle pour brings a light tanned head and a dark body with plenty of ruby coming forth when held up to the light.

Big malty nose of sweet chocolate, light smoke, roast, and cherry.

Plenty of carbonation on this for the first few minutes. Roast and chocolate lead with underlying smoke.

Really enjoy the chocolate malt going on. Great Scotch Ale. (359 characters)

Photo of Mora2000
3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at the brewery during July 2009. Pours a darker brown with a creamy head. Smells of malt with a little smoke. Taste is sweet malt with some peat and smoke. This is not a very heavy beer and is very drinkable for a scotch ale. This is the only time I ever saw this beer, but I would drink it again if it became a seasonal or year-round offering. (355 characters)

Photo of imasloth
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Dark red, almost purple with a creamy off-white head that starts big and sticks around.

S- Sweet black malty scent, with a hint of anise (a substance that I'm not very keen on, thus the score).

T- Light bitterness upfront, followed by rich malt. Very straight forward but also very delicious.

M- Medium-bodied, but very smooth for such a high alcohol content. No bitter feeling in mouth, but a light coating of sweet malt.

O- It's good, not great- like a lot of Rahr beers. I'd certainly drink it again and even buy a six pack, but it won't overwhelm you. (562 characters)

Photo of JosephLondon
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not a lot of head to this one, but great cascading effect as the glass tilts. Deep ruby brown color with a beige head. There is a sour malt smell. Tastes like a caramel plum tea with a squeeze of lemon. The mouthfeel is well-balanced and rounded between carbonation, thickness and smoothness. I don't like drinking this beer too much, but i could drink a few of these in a night if I wanted. (391 characters)

Photo of jlindros
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for this one.

Pours a fizzy 1.5 finger head that fades semi quickly over dark maroon almost purple dark brown color.

Nose brings plenty of dark malts, light creamy malts, caramel, brown sugar, some earthy malts and earthy herbal hops, light porter like roast.

Taste starts creamy and fairly rich, very porter like to start but not quite as dark and roasty, lots of malts, a bit caramel and brown sugar, creamy malts, touch of vanilla, some earthy and slight herbal hops, light bitterness and just a hint of minerality, hint of smoke, with a bit of sweetness and just the slightest hint of booze. As it finishes it dries quite a bit, but leaves a bit of sweet malt flavors, some herbal earthy hop flavors, and touch of minerality with hint a booze.

mouth is creamy and medium bodied with decent carbonation.

Drink is good, doesn't quite drink like 8% but has a touch of booze, creamy, a nice dry finish, smooth, and drinkable. (947 characters)

Photo of Kornoms
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark, opaque brown with only a small head. Has a floral, pine smell, not too faint, but not strong. There is a nice toasted malt and caramelized flavor with a pleasant mouthfeel. We haven't had many Scottish Ales, but we really enjoyed this one and would definitely try others. (291 characters)

Photo of kindestcut
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Rahr Iron Thistle pours a mysteriously dark amber/brown, much darker than other Scottish Ales I've had. The tan head is minimal but vibrant.

The beer smells sweet with hints of malt and spice. The sweetness certainly translates to the flavor. There is a definite caramel flavor, sweet as candy. The sweetness is checked by a faint bitterness.

I would say that this beer is almost creamy and not as full bodied as I would like. While it isn't watery, it is slightly thin. The alcohol is well hidden. (504 characters)

Photo of SuperSpy
3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle poured into an Iron Thistle glass (the glass commemorating the 2009 National Grand Champion winner, awarded at the 2009 U.S. Beer Tasting Championships). I have to thank my dad for the glass.

A - A very dark brown with a small tan head. The head doesn't stick around for long but that's ok for the style. Also, it appears to be bottle conditioned which makes it a bit cloudy.

S - Very malty, with a bit of caramel, roasted malt, and earthy tones underneath. Smells like it's going to be full-bodied and chewy. I'll have to knock off points if it fails to deliver...

S/M - Medium-Full bodied, a bit chewy, and quite smooth. The flavor is malty, but not overly sweet. No real smokiness, but definitely some roasted malt. I pick up some prunes. No hop flavor. The high ABV is not noticeable at all.

D - A very easy beer to drink. Dangerously so considering the ABV. There is some room for improvement but Rahr has produced a very good beer. (961 characters)

Photo of EgadBananas
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Very, very dark red/brown, almost black (as the bottle hinted at). Very like tan head of a solid finger adorns and leaves minimal lacing. Lots of bubbles streaming up the glass.

Aroma is malty sweet, very roasted, slightly charred and smoky, nutty, and very bready/doughy/yeasty sweet.

Malty sweet, roasted, hints of booze, some chocolate and caramel notes. Finish is bittersweet.

The feel is maybe medium, more crisp than smooth. Carbonation spikes just a hair. Finishes clean, but feel is overall on the lighter side.

Drink ability is good. Feel aside, it's a right tasty Wee Heavy. (589 characters)

Photo of MrHungryMonkey
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nose is ripe with coffee, dark fruit, and chocolaty malt. Smells pretty good.

Pours clear very dark brown with mild head. Looks good.

Flavor follows with additional coffee depth, and a nice sweetness and creaminess, as well as a good bit of fruit (notably grape), and a root-beer-ish spice (wintergreen?). Expectedly dark and malty with minimal hop impact. Thick body full of rich malt. Finishes fairly clean, slightly nutty. Tastes good. Feels good. Pretty good drinkability.

Tasty beer, to say the least. Always glad to support the local boys! (548 characters)

Photo of beesy
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Thank Tommyhock!

A - pours a fairly clear medium brown, slightly mahagony, color with a medium brown one finger head that dissipates quickly.

S - Nothing sexy going on here. Maybe some brown malt and some yeast profiles.

T - Lots of chocolate as it warms. Very malty. Some caramel present and with a toasty/biscuity maly detected. Not much in the way of hops detected, but not expected.

M - A somewhat slick, full bodied beer.

D - Somewhat low as it's fairly viscious although it drinks more like a 5 or 6% abv beer instead of an 8%.

Overall a pretty enjoyable beer in a style I usually don't gravitate to. Lots of flavor and drinks easier than expected. (715 characters)

Photo of mactrail
3.74/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Very dark brown in the Duvel tulip, with a modest head. Decently spritzy on the tongue. Substantial mouthfeel. Sweet beginning and a long, moderately bitter aftertaste.

Malty and fairly rich. Just a touch of smokiness and a little butterscotch. On the dry side, almost like a Belgian beer, after the malty start. Dark roasted malt with some charred grain and burnt sugar. Slightly woody with a hint of grape leaf tannins. Quite tasty overall. I like the restrained sweetness. From the 12 oz bottle purchased at Texas Wine in Fredericksburg. (542 characters)

Photo of beerborn
3.72/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a dark red into the glass. Formed a nice head on top that quickly dissipated into the glass leaving nice lacing notes along the sides.

S: Honestly not sure where to place the smell at. Some nice gentle hop notes at the front, followed by what seems to be a dark fruity smell to me.

T: Impressive I think. I get large caramel notes the whole way through, wasn't quite expecting that after reading the bottle description.

M: The beer is smooth and well carbonated. Sits nicely on the tongue and flows around without any bitterness to it.

O: I believe this is truly one of, if not my first, beer in the Scottish-Style Ale category. Wish I had some background to compare it against. However that being said this is a good beer, I could see it be a steady go to for a little while during the late winter/early spring. (825 characters)

Photo of LeeryLeprechaun
3.71/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Rahr Iron Thistle

Pours dark brown with a slight off white head. Head quickly comes back to life with a gentle swirl of the beer. The beer is dark and mystic, deep in color.

Aroma is sweet and malty, a lot of caramel in the aroma.Some molasses like aromas.

Very sweet and rich, almost but not quite cloying. Burnt toast at the finish.

Mouthfeel is rich and full.

Really enjoyable beer, I like how smooth and rich it is. A great representation of the style in my opinion. (475 characters)

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Iron Thistle from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 70 ratings.